Cass County Health, Human and Veterans service reminds people that Aug. 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Awareness Week with the theme Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.

Breastfeeding practices have been impacted both positively and negatively due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, concerns that a mother could transmit COVID-19 to her infant caused some health systems to limit contact or discourage mothers from breastfeeding their babies if the mother was ill with COVID-19.

This was not found to be needed and babies were able to be breastfed by mothers who desired to do so and were not too ill.

Breastfeeding continues to offer robust immune support to infants. Breast milk contains antibodies, growth factors, enzymes and hormones that fight infections during infancy, provide lifelong protection against many diseases, promote healthy infant development and lower the risk of pneumonia, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome.

Breastfeeding has advantages for the mother as well, including less risk of breast or ovarian cancer, less risk of diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease, and often helps to lose the “baby weight“ earlier. Breastfeeding can help moms bond with their baby and protect against postpartum depression.

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Often mothers experience challenges with continuing to breastfeed after they return to work. Workplaces that offer a safe and comfortable place to express breast milk are assisting their employees to keep their baby healthy and this helps to decrease sick days off due to infant illness.

Communities and workplaces that support breastfeeding contribute to healthy families as well as decreased health costs both to their employees and to the community at large.

Cass County Public Health nurses are specially trained in supporting mothers to breastfeed and are available to assist any community member who needs assistance. The Cass County Women, Infants and Children (WIC program) offers support and guidance to participating moms during pregnancy, after delivery and beyond.

For more information on breastfeeding or the WIC program, contact Cass County Public Health at 218-547-1340.